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TRADE UNIONS PROTEST 'OUTSIDER' FIRMS HARMING NEW MEXICO

 TRADE UNIONS PROTEST 'OUTSIDER' FIRMS HARMING NEW MEXICO
 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., March 11 /PRNewswire/ -- Citing specific cases that shortchange the New Mexico taxpayer and drive down the wage and living standards of the state's workers, organized labor representatives in Albuquerque are calling for action against out-of-state contractors whose business practices are harmful to New Mexico.
 The Pittsburgh and Midway Coal Co. recently requested and received from the state Legislature extended severance-tax relief on coal mined in McKinley County. In the past, such tax relief received strong support from organized labor in New Mexico, according to Allen Pearson, director of the Market Recovery Program of the New Mexico- based United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 412.
 "But this time around it appears to be a squeeze play by P&M and its parent company, Chevron, to hoodwink the Legislature into believing that this tax relief will help local workers and encourage economic development in McKinley County," Pearson said.
 In reality, he continued, the tax-relief benefits will go to out- of-state contractors who bring in their own workers, use the state's social services and leave. "New Mexico has a reputation for being hospitable to out-of-state contractors who employ out-of-state workers," he said. "But it's time to put a stop to companies that won't hire local workers, don't pay medical benefits but do take advantage of the state's Worker's Compensation fund."
 A case in point, said Pearson, is The Industrial Co. (TIC) of Steamboat Springs, Colo., which was brought into New Mexico by P&M. Not only did TIC refuse to hire any of the 100 New Mexico workers who applied for work on the $20 million York Canyon Mine expansion near Raton, he said, but it began lobbying heavily for subsidies and tax breaks in the New Mexico State Legislature.
 "Even if the tax relief were necessary, why should New Mexico taxpayers subsidize a company that subcontracts local construction work to an out-of-state contractor employing out-of-state workers at 50 percent of the prevailing wage rate in our community?" asked Leroy Baca, president of the Raton local of the United Mine Workers of America, which represents miners and other trades on expansion/retrofit projects at Pittsburgh and Midway-owned mine sites.
 It is not that New Mexican workers aren't competitive, said Pearson of the Pipe Trades Union, but that these companies are paying out-of-state workers an additional $20 per hour for their rigs and equipment, this on top of the wage rate of $8 per hour. He said this is more than the $24 an hour that qualified and skilled New Mexican pipefitters would earn.
 Pearson said this policy shortchanges New Mexico because these companies pay into the state Workmen's Comp fund on only the $8 wage rate, not on the whole $28. In addition, since virtually none of these out-of-state workers are licensed independent contractors, they are not paying gross-receipt taxes on the $20 per hour they receive for their equipment.
 "The bottom line is that these companies are violating both the spirit of New Mexico law as well as the trust of all New Mexicans," Pearson concluded. "They are cheating our Workmen's Comp system and are engaging in employment practices which ultimately cheat our state out of jobs and tax revenue. It's time to put up the 'Not Welcome' sign."
 -0- 3/11/92
 /CONTACT: Allen Pearson of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 412, 505-255-1764/ CO: United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local No. 412 ST: New Mexico IN: MNG, CST SU:


DG -- SF009 -- 7348 03/11/92 14:23 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 11, 1992
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